George Pendlebury was born on the 28th August 1922 and shared his early life with his parents, two brothers and four sisters on the family farm at Hopetown. George recollects that his father along with four other families took up soldier settlement blocks to farm wheat. He remembers having his first bike ride where he had to ride a much larger bike that for his size by sticking his leg under the top bar through to the cranks to achieve his first solo ride.
After some tough seasons and low prices for wheat the family purchased a 120 acre property at Epsom starting a dairy farm. Then they shifted to Nanneela Estate north of Bendigo, where George’s father started a grocery store. Groceries were delivered by either bicycle or the T model Ford, but going from dust, to 24/7 with cows, to wet clay roads that became impassable saw the demise of family business.
Later his father purchased the Spring Gully Store where they resided and conducted business until his father sold the business in 1952. George has such fond memories of his days in the Spring Gully Store with his family. His father had a Hartley bike for deliveries which had a large basket on the front (which George still proudly holds in his possession) with a trailer that was simply hooked on the back.
George reflected on his brothers having a crudely made tandem until a brother and his mate took it ferreting. The day’s outing was so productive that coming up Laudens Hill almost home the rabbit laden bike came to a grinding halt collapsing under the weight of the days catch. The bike was never resurrected.
George remembers vividly that they had three bikes: a Master Sports, a Hartley, and a locally made Al-Brook’s bike (maker Alf Brook a local identity in cycling). This last was his own purpose built for his own use and purchased at the princely sum of 7 pound 9 shillings and 16 pence. George can remember going into the Queens Street workshop located at the rear of an Insurance Agent watching the tubes being pinned into the lugs and being bronze sweated together and then being filed off before being painted and pinned stripped. The bike was 22 and a ¼ inches and had a three speed internal hub call “OZ gears”. The Brook’s seat was just coincidence as these came from England at the time and was not Alf Brook’s own brand.
George joined the Bendigo Amateur Cycling Club in 1939 and can remember that he was never in the hunt when it came to competing against the sponsored riders. In 1940 George thought he might have a try at track racing and purchased a set of wooden rims. Alas this was a short lived dream when riding down the tram tracks he got caught and destroyed the rims in the track grooves.
In November 1941 George was called to arms for the war and despite being enlisted was fortunate to never leave the shores of Australia. His love for cycling was again sparked and he was known as the “Bike Bloke” and was requested to tinker with the regiment bikes. Being discharged in 1946 he married soon after, and started a family and a long and productive career in farm machinery sales.
In 1980 CASE took over International Implements and only a few hours later George was without employment. Soon after he joined the Senior Citizens. After a few years of wandering in the wilderness seeking some sense of retirement cycling came back into George’s life, not as a rider but in the refurbishment of bikes.
With two boys of his own, six grand children and nine great grand children George has enough work on bikes to keep himself busy. George could not account for how many he may have refurbished and passed on for a minimal token price but thinks hundreds is no exaggeration.
George could write a book on the ingenuity of the characters that have wandered into his humble workshop seeking bits and pieces to customize a bike. George is known for his free parts box where passers-by can help themselves no questions asked. George has made his services available to foster families and to the drink driver being disqualified and needing a mode of transport for a few months or longer.
There are probably many readers out there that have fond memories of George and his kindness of heart to help out a needy cyclist.
Looking forward to seeing you on the road soon God willing